The weather is warming up in Shanghai and you know what that means – time to open the windows, turn on the fans, and get the hell out of your apartment into the great outdoors! But where oh where can a person go for some (relatively) fresh air and a healthy dose of nature? Luckily there is no need to despair, as there are a number of beautiful scenic spots for nature walks near Shanghai. Pick your favorite or try them all – either way, your body will thank you!
1) Chongming Island
Chongming Island is a fairly popular destination for those just looking to get away from the bustle of the city for a day. The Dongtan National Nature Reserve is located here, a great place from which to watch the local fisherman make their daily catches of fish and crab. There is also a suspended walkway crisscrossing over the salt water marshes for an up close view. If you’re in the mood for a more domesticated experience, Dongping National Forest Park offers plenty of pruned trails that wind amongst the trees. Bike rentals are also available there for those who want to move a bit faster.
By bus: 1) From the Shanghai North Long Distance Bus Station, take the Shen Chong bus to Nanmen Town (roughly 15 RMB). From there, take a taxi to Chongming Island (roughly 60 RMB).
2) On Saturdays and Sundays, a bus from the Shanghai Tourist Distribution Center will take you there and back (roughly 120 RMB).
By ferry: Take a ferry from Baoyang Port in Baoshan District to Chongming Island (roughly 30 RMB).
2) Suzhou Gardens
Before the fast trains, Suzhou used to be a healthy hour and a half trip from Shanghai. This was just long enough to make it seem like too much of a trek for an average weekend. But now, you can make it from the Hongqiao Railway platform to the Suzhou platform in 25 minutes flat, making it perfect for any time you have an afternoon to spare. Suzhou has multiple gardens and scenic spots to wander through, but I think the best are The Lingering Garden and The Humble Administrator’s Garden. The former was built in 1566 and used to be a private garden during the Ming Dynasty. The latter is arguably the most famous one in Suzhou and was built in 1509. It has a breathtaking number of lotus plants that bloom in early August. And for all you history buffs out there, The Humble Administrator’s Garden is conveniently located next to the Suzhou Museum.
By train: Take a train from either the Hongqiao Railway station or the Shanghai Railway station to either the Suzhou Yuanqu station or the Suzhou station. G-trains are by far the fastest and best way to go (roughly 60 RMB one way).
3) Moganshan National Park
Moganshan has gained traction in recent years as a beautiful, somewhat trendy retreat from the city. The national park in Zhejiang Province is located around 200 kilometers from Shanghai and contains a three-ridged mountain perfect for hiking. Bamboo forests, waterfalls, and plenty of tall pine trees dot this peaceful walk through nature. While there is a full paved “trail” (ie: road) running around the top of the mountain, the more natural dirt paths usually prove much more fun (and quiet!). After this stroll, you may be tempted to stay overnight at one of the inns that have popped up around the area during the past few years.
Getting there: Rent a car or take a taxi from Shanghai’s main highway (A9) to Huzhou, then follow the signs toward Deqing to Moganshan. To get up the mountain, I recommend taking the scenic route from Anji, which is about thirty kilometers.
4) Hangzhou’s West Lake
Hangzhou is mostly known for its West Lake, which is completely understandable – it’s quite gorgeous. Situated right smack in the middle of the city, the temples and various gardens surrounding it can occupy the casual walker for hours. If you want to venture out in a boat, the islands dotting the middle of the lake can also provide peaceful retreats. If you head down there for the West Lake, however, don’t pass up the chance to see the Long Jing tea fields as well. It’s just a short drive from downtown Hangzhou and it reveals a whole other dynamic to the city when you stroll through the countryside filled with green tea. As an added bonus, have a cup of locally grown tea in one of the numerous open air tea houses that line the villages. Yes, it may be a tourist trap, but it sure is a nice one.
By train – Take a train from either the Hongqiao Railway station or the Shanghai Railway station to either the Hangzhou Railway station or the Hangzhou South Railway station.
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Keywords: nature walks near Shanghai Chongming Island
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